Giving his pupil a quick once over, the artist asked, "Getting ready for the fight?"
Grabbing a role of tape from the counter, Alyson began to wrap her hands; first the left, then the right. Not looking up, she replied, "I've been ready for months Richard. Right now I'm just visualizing Rachel and Katie festooned in barbed wire. It's quite relaxing."
Setting his supplies down on a low wooden bench, Pickman walked up beside her, laid a hand on her shoulder, "A beautiful image indeed, but you must be careful..."
Now the redhead did look up. "I can handle these two Richard."
He answered in a low, soothing voice. "I have no doubt that in individual competition you could thrash them soundly. But for tonight at least they are together and the one thing that might overcome their hatred for one another is their hatred for you. There's nothing to stop them from forming an alliance just long enough to remove you from the match. And given the stipulation we laid out, my talents will be of no help to you."
Finished with her wrapping, Alyson threw it aside and curled her hands into fists, stretching the tape. Imagining what her hands would look like at the end of the fight, she murmured, "I don't need stage blood and pyrotechnics tonight Richard; I'll play Katie and Rachel off one another and when they're wounded I'll finish them off. First McAdams, then Holmes. And when this is all over you'll finally believe that I'm better than her."
She glanced up at his reflection and for the first time in their association, saw surprise. Quickly regaining his usual stoic imperturbability, Pickman replied, "I never said..."
Alyson smiled. "You didn't have to; I could see it in your eyes. As angry as she's made you, as much as you want to see her humbled, a part of you wants her to battle to the last breath because you can't help yourself. You love watching her fight."
The artist was silent a moment, thinking about his answer. After several more seconds of silence he nodded once and confirmed the redhead's suspicions. "You're right, I do. But that doesn't mean I want her to win. It will bring me the utmost joy to watch Holmes fight valiantly in the face of insurmountable odds and come so very close to winning only to be crushed in the denouement. And there's only one woman I know capable of doing it with the style and savagery befitting of a true masterpiece."
Alyson finally turned to face him. Craning her neck up to look him in the eye, she whispered softly, "There will be nothing left of her to draw when I'm done Richard, I promise you that."
The mysterious artist reached up and brushed a lock of hair off her face. "You haven't failed me yet Alyson and I don't believe you're going to start tonight. But know this: You must win tonight and you must OBLITERATE Katie Holmes in the process. Because if the unthinkable should occur; Katie will do the same to you. Should you fail, I won't be able to stop her."
The redhead absorbed his words and then smiled. It was a cruel, hateful expression, entirely devoid of humor or mirth. "And if she fails, you won't be able to stop me either."
Pickman's smile was equally cold. "I wouldn't dream of trying my dear, one must let art take its course."
Glancing at the battered clock hanging over the door, Alyson saw that it was less than ten minutes to bell. Slipping passed Pickman, she said, "Then let's head to the ring shall we? I've got a canvas to paint."
Glancing nervously at the tangles of metal that surrounded ninety percent of the squared circle, the Announcer made sure to stay near the center of the ring as he brought the mic up and began speaking. "Ladies and Gentlemen, the following contest is the FIRST EVER Demon's Nest match. To win, one lady must pin or submit both of her opponents. And it should go without saying, but this contest is no disqualification and WILL NOT be stopped on account of blood loss."
Taking a breath, the harried young man squashed the nervous quiver in his voice and started again. "Introducing first, at 5’6” tall…she is the Auburn Avenger…allow me to present Rachel….Mc…Adams!”
The distinctive, slightly aboriginal opening riff to Oleander's 'Are You There' comes to life and Rachel doesn't wait long to make her presence felt. When she does, the crowd gives her a most enthusiastic welcome. And even though the redhead was clad in tights jeans and a long sleeved gray MCADAMS SMASHER T-shirt, an outfit that would be considered scandalously conservative on most evenings, the amount of clothing she wore did not seem to dampen the crowd's enthusiasm at all. Rewarding the fans with a slight smile, Rachel slapped hands on her way down the aisle and made a brisk circuit of the ringside area before climbing the steel steps and slipping through the narrow opening in the wire. Turning to face the entryway, she cracked her knuckles and waited for the arrival of her two greatest enemies.
As the furor over Rachel died down, the Announcer continued, "And her opponent, accompanied to the ring by Richard Pickman….she stands 5’6”…she is Alyson Hannigan!"
'Vermilion' roars through the speakers and suddenly the artist and his pupil are standing at the top of the ramp, occupying a space that had been empty only heartbeats before. Much like the other redhead, Alyson is clad for protection and not style, though one would be hard pressed to describe her ensemble of a maroon long sleeved T-shirt and skin tight black vinyl pants unappealing. Fixing the crowd with a scornful little smirk, Aly heads towards Pickman's greatest piece of performance art with the man himself falling into silent step behind her. Giving her mentor a final knowing grin, the former Hood enters the ring and makes a point of trailing her fingers across the sea of spikes that surrounds their battlefield. As her music fades, Alyson turns toward the entrance and her smile fades almost immediately.
Almost done now, the Announcer concludes, "And the third opponent…standing 5’10” tall…ladies and gentlemen, please welcome…Katie…Holmes!"
The slow, slightly ominous opening chords to 'Got You (Where I Want You)' pulses to life and the brunette warrior strolls into view. Decked out in faded jeans and the seemingly requisite black long sleeved T-shirt, Katie tops off her gear with the battered motorcycle jacket she's worn since shortly before Darkfall. Raising her arms in the mysterious cross sign that was her trademark, Katie basks in the roars of her fans for a moment and then heads to the nest, never once letting her eyes leave Alyson's. As she passes by Pickman, she leans in and whispers something in the artist's ear. His reaction is negligible but Alyson nearly goes ballistic and has to be restrained by an anxious looking official. Stepping into the ring, Katie waits for the announcer to take his leave before slipping off her jacket and tossing it onto the nearest turnbuckle. A moment later, a pair of grim-faced techs sealed the egress with several more strands of wire, making escape all but impossible and most definitely unpleasant.
The bell rang loudly in the confines of the R'lyeh Club and while this familiar sound often brought an increase in the crowd's frenzied murmur, the fans present stayed remarkably quiet. Not because they weren't excited, not at all. But some unspoken group awareness told them that appearing TOO eager to see their favorites battle inside the hellish tangle or wires and spikes would be an ill-omen for the wrestlers trapped inside. It was obvious that the Demon's Nest would taste the blood of all it's victims before the night was over; one had the distinct impression that it would be better not to encourage the thing.
From her corner (well, not actually a corner proper, just close enough to keep her away from the others) Alyson gazed over the wire and locked eyes with Richard Pickman. Expression never changing she whispered, "Soon" and the artist nodded.
Several feet away, Katie watched this silent communiqué and snarled. Curling her hands into fists, the brunette savored the feel of the tape wrapped around her fingers and wrists and palms. Very soon now the gleaming white strands would be dyed a bright maroon that would eventually dry to a nasty, rusty brown, but that didn't bother Katie in the least. She had a feeling that after the match, the discarded loops of adhesive would become one of her most prized possessions. Licking her lips, Katie regarded the two redheads with a predator's eye and whispered, "This ends tonight."
Positioned at a direct diagonal to Alyson and straight across from Katie, Rachel pulled her hands (also wrapped in a judicious amount of tape) away from the smooth spots in the wire and cracked her knuckles. Shifting her gaze from Katie to Alyson and back again, the pale beauty summoned up every painful, hateful thing that had happened to her since she'd been sucked into this confrontation. Despite the fact that she hated Katie like poison, Rachel knew the lanky brunette was actually the lesser of two evils in this situation. If Alyson and her freak artist friend hadn't gone to such great lengths to frame her, she and Katie would have never laid a hand on each other, at least outside the confines of a wrestling ring. Rachel KNEW this, but she found it didn't matter. The lesser of two evils was still an evil, and she meant to take both of them out before the bell rang again.
Through gorging on thoughts of the past, Rachel quieted all the voices in her head, save one as, speaking softly but clearly, the Auburn Avenger said, "You made a mistake involving me in this war of yours. When this story started it was all about you, but when it ends, I'll be the only one left standing."
Then she stalked out of her corner toward the center of the ring as her two rivals did the same. The threesome came together in a rough triangle and Katie and Rachel set their sites on Alyson. Knowing that this was bound to happen, Alyson took a step back and held up both hands in 'hold on a second' gesture that actually did manage to stop the other two women in their tracks, at least for the moment.
Smiling sweetly at Katie, the former Hood said, "Someone will be with you in a moment." Turning her gaze to Rachel the redhead spoke again, but now the phony schmaltz was replaced by a cold, cruel, steadiness. "Rachel honey, why are you here? This isn't your fight and you know it. You're nothing but an extra who, thanks to a momentary brush with greatness deluded herself into thinking she actually matters in the overall context of this story. And while I don't normally mind crushing cockroaches, I'd like to be able to devote all my energy to dismembering Katie tonight, so if you don't mind, just toddle on over to the wire, wriggle your way through and leave the nasty stuff to the girls that can handle…UNNNNGH!"
The rest of Alyson's missive went unheard because Rachel threw herself at the other redhead, catching her around the waist in a Tackle that took them both off their feet. Alyson's head hadn't even finished bouncing when Rachel buried one hand in her hair and used the other to pound a rapid series of Jackhammer Shots to her forehead. Blue eyes glowing with a feverish light, Rachel punctuated each of her shots with a growled part of her admonition.
"YOU…” (THUD!) “WILL…” (THUD!)“ NOT…” (THUD!)“DIS-“ (THUD!) “MISS…” (THUD!) “ME!” (THUD!)
After several more of these vile shots, Rachel paused, realizing that Katie hadn't tried to stop her yet. Looking over her shoulder, Rachel saw the brunette watching the proceedings with a slight smirk on her face and that rankled Rachel all over again. After bouncing Alyson's abused head on the mat one last time, Rachel pushed up, stalked over to Katie and jabbed a finger into the brunette's chest. Breathing hard, Rachel asked, "You got anything to add Katie?"
The taller girl just shook her head 'no' as she said, "Not really. For the first and probably only time, Alyson and I are in complete agreement."
Lips curling in a furious snarl Rachel lunged at Katie, but Katie sidestepped her as easily as a Mongoose avoids a Cobra strike. Stepping in behind the off-balance beauty, Katie looped her right arm around Rachel's throat while her left hand palmed the top of her foe's skull. Pulling in with the former and pushing down on the latter, Katie locked on the Sleeper and grinned ferociously as she felt Rachel start to struggle and flail. Trying her damnedest to put a crimp in the redhead's carotid artery, Katie planted her feet against the mat and torqued her hips back and forth; shaking Rachel the way a terrier shakes a rat. Wanting nothing more than to avenge the travesty of a win Rachel had at her expense, Katie nuzzled her face in against Rachel's cheek and slowly liiicked the side of the redhead's face.
Supremely satisfied with the disgusted shiver that ran through her prey, Katie teased, "What's wrong Rachel, being Neve's bitch wasn't enough? You want to be mine too?"
The mere mention of the Scream Queen's name infuriated Rachel and spurred her to lurch forward, making her way towards the ropes. With her vision blurred and her head roaring, she was about to make the final lunge when Katie leaned in and whispered, "You SURE you wanna do that?"
Despite being trapped in the Sleeper, Rachel's eyes went wide and drew her hand back fast. Not caring to know how close she'd come to grabbing a handful of barbed wire, the captured beauty wriggled into the pressure of the Sleeper, managing to convert it to a boring old Side Headlock. Before Katie could yank her back into the Sleeper, Rachel wrapped her arms around the brunette's waist and locked her hands. With no acerbic preamble, the Auburn Avenger bent her knees, lifted up and fell back. Katie was hoisted off her feet and forced to take a short but unpleasant ride that ended her with her landing on the back of her head and shoulders compliments of Rachel's improvised Belly-to-Back Suplex.
The second the vise around her neck eased a little, Rachel tore free from her tormentor and popped to her feet. Flipping a tumble of crimson locks out of her face, Rachel sneered, "How'd you like THAT bitcEERRRRRGGH!"
Her question was cut off by her own grunt and the loud THWAP of Alyson's right boot slapping against the side of her face. Watching Rachel crumble as the Yakuza Kick connected, Alyson put her hands on her hips and replied, "I liked it very much thank you."
Breaking off, she sank to one knee and helped herself to a handful of Rachel’s collar. Pulling the woozy redhead to her feet, Pickman's pupil stared her victim straight in the face as she added, "But I'm going to like THIS a whole lot more."
Wasting no time in showing Rachel what THIS entailed, Alyson dipped her shoulder and muscled Rachel onto her back in a simple Fireman's Carry. Making sure to stay well away from the hellacious tangles surrounding the perimeter of the squared circle, Alyson bypassed her usual theatrics in the hope of eliminating Rachel from this fight as quickly as possible. Looking out into the audience with a malevolent grin, Alyson dropped into a crouch, rose up fast and shoved Rachel's chest off her shoulder, sending her opponent's upper body flying over her head in a fast, tight arc. As Rachel passed the apex of her curve, Alyson dropped to the mat, whip-lashing Rachel's back and skull against the mat with an oddly modified Death Valley Driver that she called 'The Widow Maker.'
Noting the way Rachel's head bounced off the canvas with a certain perverse glee, Alyson went for a lackadaisical cover, simply pressing both hands down on Rachel's face. While the official was positive such a lax pin wasn't going to finish the Auburn Avenger, he did his job and counted off, 'ONE... TWO' Rachel shoved Alyson away from her, halting the count with a good second to spare. Scowling slightly, Alyson rolled her eyes and got to her feet. Taking a moment to plaster a kneeling Katie with a Boot to the temple, the calculating redhead turned her attention back to Rachel and said, "Where are my manners, I forgot, you can't possibly leave my little creation without experiencing some of its charms first. Here, lemme help you up." Burying her hands in Rachel's mane, Alyson pulled the stunned girl to her knees only to immediately dim her lights with a sadistic pair of Knee Lifts to the chin, THUD! THUD!
When Aly thought Rachel's eyes were suitably glassy, she yanked the other redhead to her feet and began the slow march towards the edge of the ring. When the redheads were less than three feet away from the wire, a worried buzz ran through the audience, it looked as though Rachel was going to be the first to suffer the painfully jagged embrace of the Demon's Nest. But as Alyson was guiding her face towards a particularly wicked tangle of wire, Rachel shot her hands out in front of her, miraculously gripping two places that were free of barbs. This resistance didn't stop Alyson though and she proved it by continuing to push forward, forcing Rachel's panicked features closer and closer to the face-shredding tangle. Grinning from ear to ear, Alyson cooed, "C'mon pretty girl, give it a kiss."
Arms trembling with exertion, Rachel was about to wager her future on a desperate mule kick when there was a sudden burst of movement to her right and the hands holding her fell away. Relieved and worried at the same time, she turned around just in time to see Katie drive a second Forearm Smash into the back of Alyson's neck. Smiling the tiniest bit as Alyson sank to her knees, Katie said, "If anyone deserves the honor of introducing you to barbed wire, it's me."
Still shaking from her close call, Rachel opened her mouth to reply, but Katie had already refocused on Alyson. Pulling her nemesis to her feet, Katie bent down and wrapped one arm around Alyson's waist while the other hooked the redhead's left leg in what appeared to be the set-up for a Back Drop Suplex. But at the apex of her lift, Katie pivoted her hips and spun Alyson around 180 degrees, so that her feet were now pointing towards the brunette. In the same motion Katie fell straight down, driving Alyson straight into the mat with the Spin-Out Powerbomb she had taken to calling 'The Kill-Switch.' There was an echoing WHAM! as Alyson bounced off the canvas and rolled onto her side, clutching at her back.
Satisfied that Pickman's bitch was out of the way, at least for the moment, Katie turned around just in time to see Rachel lunging at her with a double handful of talons pointed at the brunette's face. Acting on instinct more than anything else, Katie fired her knee upward, catching the incoming redhead squarely between the thighs. Rachel let loose a howl of agony but this only prompted Katie to lean forward and coo, "I've been waiting a LONG time to do that to you Rachel."
When the impaled redhead didn't respond, Katie trapped her in a tight Front Facelock and used her free hand to secure a grip on the waistband of Rachel's jeans. Grunting with exertion, Katie muttered, "Told ya I'd get to introduce you to the wire Rachel." as she lifted Rachel off the canvas and held her inverted directly over her head. At this point, another large gasp went through the crowd because fans and detractors alike knew that one of Katie's preferred spots was to drop an adversary gut-first along the top rope, a move that was painful enough in a normal match and positively ghastly in some place like the Demon's Nest.
Fortunately for Rachel and her complexion, the brunette waited just a little too long in the stall position and she managed to wrench her way free. Landing awkwardly behind the taller beauty, Rachel’s fear was replaced with anger and she wanted to make sure Katie knew what that was like. Stepping in close, the pale redhead wrapped up Katie' arms and clamped down on the back of her neck, applying the Full Nelson that was one of her trademarks. Pushing down hard on the base of the brunette's neck, Rachel sneered, "I hear you love a faceful of just about anything Kate, but I bet this stuff makes you scream in a whole new way!"
Bulling forward, Rachel was dead-set on thrusting Katie's face and chest into the uppermost spool of wire but the brunette wasn't going to go quietly. Pushing up as high as she could, the brunette used all of her 5’10” to straighten up. Unable to totally halt her momentum, Katie lashed her right leg out and slammed her foot into the tangle of wires. Gritting her teeth as the barbs grated against her boot, Katie pushed up with her other foot and planted it next to the first. Pushing back as hard as she could, Katie's legs were quaking with tension as she desperately fought to keep out of the wire.
Growling as Katie continued to resist her, Rachel pressed forward and hissed, "I don't think so bitch! I'm gonna CARVE YOU UNNNGGH!"
A bomb went off in her ribs as Alyson buried a hard-hearted pair of fists into her kidneys. Chuckling nastily as Rachel and Katie both dropped to the mat, Alyson said, "You keep taking your eyes off me and I'm gonna have to gouge them out." Pulling the crumpled redhead to her feet, Alyson bent her backwards and forced Rachel’s chin into her left armpit, trapping her in an Inverted Facelock. Rising up on her toes, Alyson sat out fast, drilling the back of Rachel's head into the canvas with a Reverse DDT. Still smirking, Aly patted Rachel's cheek and cooed, "Now it's time for you to taste the wire, slut!"
Getting her feet under her, Alyson pulled Rachel up and grabbed her by the wrist. Pointing the wounded redhead towards the far corner, Alyson bent her knees and Whipped Rachel across the ring. Regaining her senses half-way towards the corner, Rachel's eyes went wide and she turned her shoulder towards the steel, doing her best to minimize how much of her would actually hit. In this she was mostly successful, the landing was still rather painful, but the buckles were blissfully free of barbs and Rachel only had to deal with the tingle running up her shoulder and a few light scratches that weren't even enough to tear the material of her long-sleeved shirt.
Watching this unfold, Alyson shook her head and muttered, "Well that was disappointing, let's see if adding another loser makes it better." Grabbing a handful of Katie's dark locks, Alyson pulled the brunette to her feet and sent her down the same path as Rachel.
But Katie surprising lack of resistance had been carefully feigned, the former Darkness leader was in careful control of her actions from start to finish. As she bore down on Rachel, Katie put on the brakes, stopping with less than an inch to spare. Panting into the redhead's startled face, Katie growled, "Make no mistake, I hate you Rachel, but I hate her just a little bit more. If you want her to suffer like I do, you'll trust me just this once."
Rachel was silent, but she nodded. Forgoing a nod of her own, Katie suddenly slumped forward and let out a pained scream. As she sagged into Rachel's grip, the brunette muttered, "Tell me when she starts to move."
Keeping her eyes half closed, Rachel made a halfhearted attempt to push Katie away, but she kept her gaze firmly on the other redhead. When she saw Alyson drop into a crouch and sprint forward, the Auburn Avenger muttered, "She's coming."
Katie responded by taking hold of Rachel's wrist and commanding, "Make sure you get your foot up."
Stepping back, Katie jerked Rachel out of the corner and whipped her towards the incoming vixen. Remembering Katie's demand, Rachel shot her right boot up and THWAP caught Alyson across the chin with a Big Boot that echoed through the arena.
Regaining her balance after the kick connected, Rachel glared down into Alyson's stunned face and snarled, "Not so tough now are you bitch?"
She was about to continue when Katie stepped up beside her and said, "Shut up McAdams. You can taunt her when she's bleeding." Kneeling down, Katie grabbed Alyson by the wrist and yanked her to her feet. Turning a questioning glance towards Rachel, she asked, "You want to help or not?"
Rolling her eyes, Rachel took hold of Alyson's other wrist and said, "Which side?"
Looking around, Katie's gaze found Pickman watching from ringside. Smiling cruelly, the brunette answered, "That one."
Speaking no more, the two rivals directed their dazed adversary towards the tangle of wires in front of the artist and swiftly whipped her as hard as they could. Alyson knew what was coming and tried to stop it, but her momentum was too great and the best she could manage was a drunken half turn that ensured her back would take the brunt of the impact. A second later, the audience gasped and Alyson screamed as the Demon's Nest tasted the first blood of the evening. Flashing a cruelly beatific smile, Katie turned to Rachel and said, "I KNEW that would be fuNNGHHHH!"
The brunette's words devolved into a howl of pain as Rachel lunged forward and stabbed her left knee into Katie's groin. The stunned grappler's usually strong legs gave out on her and she sank to her knees only to have Rachel lock her up in a Standing Headscissors.
Wrapping her arms around Katie's long midsection, the vengeful redhead snarled, "You're just as guilty as she is." She proceeded to drag Katie up into the stall position for a Powerbomb, a pose she occupied just long enough to let the crowd know what was coming. As they started to buzz, Rachel rose up on her toes and slammed Katie down as hard as she could, nearly driving the taller girl through the canvas with a Powerbomb that left her folded, broken and mewling in the center of the squared circle. Feeling more than a little righteous after introducing Katie to the mat, Rachel turned her head towards Alyson and smiled when she saw the trapped redhead still trying to tug her way free of the skin-shredding tangle of wires.
Rolling her shoulders, Rachel stayed silent until Alyson glanced in her direction. As their gazes locked, Rachel smiled hatefully and mouthed, "This is for Pandora's Box!" As Alyson's eyes went wide, the Auburn Avenger exploded forward, eating up the distance between them at an alarming rate. With less than two feet separating the pair, Rachel brought her right foot up a second time, catching Alyson square across the cheek with a no-frills necessary kick that snapped her head back into a particularly nasty looking coil of the barbed stuff. Glaring the blackest murder into Alyson's glistening eyes, Rachel buried her hands in the other redhead's hair and growled, "This is what happens when you try to use me as a pawn Alyson, I tear you to fucking pieces."
When she didn't get a cogent reply, Rachel stepped back and YANKED hard, tearing Alyson free from her confinement in the barbed wire. Ignoring her prey's scream of pain, Rachel trudged to the center of the ring and shouted to the audience, "ONE DOWN!"
As her words echoed through the venue, Rachel shoved Alyson away from her and bent down; forcing her head between Alyson's legs, as if setting herself up for a Pile Driver. In the same instant, she cinched her arms around Alyson's thighs and clasped her hands, holding the woozy redhead in place. Grinning like a lunatic, Rachel straightened up with Alyson now draped on her back, head down with her face right about level with her tormentor's rump. Allowing herself just a moment to sneer at Pickman, Rachel bent her knees slightly and then jumped into the air. As she came down, she tucked her legs under her and landed on her knees at the same time the top of Alyson's head was spiked into the canvas.
The crowd leapt to their feet and roared as the Auburn Avenger had leveled her nemesis in the center of the ring with the one and only McAdams' Smasher! When Alyson's head connected with the mat, Rachel let go of the redhead's legs allowing her to flop out bonelessly behind her. And with Alyson's head directly behind Rachel's butt, all the adrenaline-charged redhead had to do was scoot back a bit and sit down, dropping the full weight of her denim-clad backside across Alyson's face in a nose-grinding Front Face Sit. Grabbing a double handful of Alyson's hair, Rachel jammed the former Hood's face into her crotch as the ref swooped in to count.
"ONE... TWO... THREE!"
The mob exploded in a cacophony of cheers, but you'd never have known from looking at Rachel. While Rachel was quite pleased to have scored the first pin of the match, Alyson wasn't going anywhere and there was still Katie to deal with. Speaking of which...Rachel treated Alyson to a final hard thrust of her hips and then pushed her way to her feet. Not too far away, Katie was just now rolling onto her hands and knees and it was obvious that she was still suffering the ill-effects of Rachel's Powerbomb.
Hoping she could finish off Katie and end the match before Alyson had a chance to recover, Rachel stalked over to the penitent brunette and latched onto the collar of her shirt. Tugging Katie back to something that resembled verticality, the redhead opened her mouth to chide her nemesis and that's when Katie slashed out with both hands and raaaaked them across Rachel's eyes. Shrieking in surprise and dismay, the Auburn Avenger swung blindly but her shots missed by a mile and Katie had no trouble in securing a tight one-handed grip on her windpipe. Squeezing as tight as she dared, Katie throttled Rachel with a choke that would have gotten her disqualified after four seconds in a regular match, but as the sea of silvery spikes surrounding the ring proved, this was not an ordinary match and a choke hold was as legal as a Hammerlock.
Still aching from Rachel's brutal low blow and the slam shortly thereafter, Katie was merciless in applying the choke, only releasing the pressure for a second when she thought Rachel might pass out. After several seconds of this brutal treatment, Rachel's knees started to get rubbery and Katie knew she had the redhead right where she wanted her. With no discernible effort, the vindictive brunette marched forward, forcing Rachel to backpedal along in front of her or fall flat on her ass. Truth be told, the second option might have been better for her overall health because it soon became obvious that Katie was leading Rachel down a path that ended in copious amounts of barbed wire.
Rachel must have sensed this peril at the last moment because both of her hands suddenly shot up and wrapped around Katie's wrist in an effort to halt their momentum, but by then it was too late. Katie just shoved her once more and the disoriented vixen found herself pressed up against a slightly yielding and totally merciless barrier. Laughing aloud as Rachel began to scream and thrash, Katie hissed, "Bleed you bitch..." as she continued to force Rachel into the tiny spikes.
Wincing in shared pain as he watched the barbs tear through Rachel's shirt and make several shallow cuts on the skin beneath, the erstwhile official got as close as he dared and asked, "Do you want to submit Rachel?"
Shaking her head 'no' (even though it was an added misery to do so) the redhead gasped, "NEVER!"
This amused Katie to no end. Relaxing her grip on the redhead's throat the tiniest bit, Katie licked her lips and whispered, "You'll submit soon enough. That's what quitters do."
The word 'quitter' hit Rachel like a slap in the face. Ever since Neve had forced her to surrender at the Christmas Party, Rachel had been diligently working on her submission defense, and to find herself forced into an equally painful situation after all her hard work was more than she could bear. Refusing to allow the brunette the joy of feeling her quit, Rachel summoned her reserves and fired off a hard Toe Kick that caught the lanky beauty right in the navel. Katie gasped and staggered back, her grip on Rachel's throat instantly forgotten.
Grimacing as she tugged herself free of the sadistic steel tines, Rachel’s blue eyes narrowed to hateful arctic slits as she whispered, "You're the only quitter in this ring bitch."
She sprinted forward and pounced only to have Katie sidestep her and wrap and arm across her chest and the other across her upper-thighs. In the next second she'd been scooped up and held under Katie's left arm, perfectly parallel to the mat but several feet above it. Using the combined force of her own strength and Rachel's momentum, the tall brunette spun in a loose half turn and sat out fast, driving the full length of Rachel’s back into the mat with a Sidewalk Slam.
Riding out the ripple that ran through the canvas when her move connected, Katie released her grip on Rachel only to immediately bury both hands in the back of her shirt (which, Katie took delight in noting was torn in almost a dozen places and spotted with blood) and haul her to her feet. Standing behind the injured redhead, Katie bent Rachel backwards, hooking her foe's head in the crook of her armpit, locking in the Dragon Sleeper. Looking to ensure Rachel's speedy and tearful submission, Katie fell backwards and locked her legs around Rachel's waist, adding a Body Scissors to the Dragon Sleeper.
Wrenching back on both holds with every ounce of her strength, Katie stretched Rachel's neck to the snapping point and growled, "GIVE IT UP RACHEL!"
Rachel opened her mouth to reply but it was Alyson's voice that answered. From somewhere overhead, Alyson chided, "No fucking way Katie, I called first dibs on this meddling bitch!"
Katie craned her head back to locate the other redhead and that's when the back of Alyson's thigh came crashing down across the bridge of her nose in a picture perfect Leg Drop. Completely unprepared for the attack, Katie spasmed once and released her grip on Rachel. Suddenly she had her own aches and pains to worry about. Alyson on the other hand was feeling rather good, despite the fact that she'd spent the last minute or so trying to rub Rachel’s funk out of her nose. Torn between which woman she wanted to hurt more, the girl who'd terrorized an entire promotion under the anonymity of a simple hood fell back on her default position of 'hurt Katie' and the dilemma was resolved.
But even though she'd set her sites on the brunette, that didn't stop Alyson from slapping Rachel's lacerated back and taunting, "It'll be your turn soon enough pussy."
Leaving Rachel to tend to her wounds (including those she had inflicted) Alyson got to her feet and sauntered her way over to the moaning brunette. Whistling a happy little tune she'd heard Pickman use when he was painting, Alyson plunged her talons in the brunette's hair and scraped her off the mat. Using her left arm, she ensnared Katie in a Front Facelock.
Making a point to step over Rachel’s moaning carcass, Alyson lead her adversary to the center of the ring and tightened her grip. Grating Katie' ears with the Facelock, Alyson took hold of Katie' left wrist and folded it up against the slender girl's back in a simple but effective Hammerlock. Rising up on her toes, the cruel redhead jerked up on the Hammerlock and fell back simultaneously, spiking the crown of Katie's skull into the canvas with take on the classic DDT.
Still whistling as Katie groaned and flopped over onto her back; Alyson thought about going for the cover and then decided she'd rather have some more fun at the brunette's expense. Leaning down into Katie's face, Alyson purred, "I'm not bored just yet."
She quickly pulled Katie back to her feet. Taking the time to make sure Rachel wasn't going to interrupt, (the other redhead was still lying on her side and cradling her back. She didn't look to be much of a threat.) Alyson hoisted Katie up onto her shoulders into a Fireman's Carry. Walking slowly around the edge of the jaggedly encircled ring, Alyson looked out at the crowd and grinned while she sneered, "Why so quiet losers? Were you hoping that one of these two pieces of trash was going to be able to stop me? Guess a-fucking-gin!"
Right on cue she bent her knees and then pushed up hard on Katie's knees. The lithe brunette's body was flung up and over in a tight arc over Alyson's head, coming down as if for some modified Death Valley Driver, but instead of sitting out, the redhead sank to one knee, letting the back of Katie's neck slam into the posted joint as she dropped toward the canvas. The effects of the viciously modified Neckbreaker sent waves of agony through Katie's body, as indicated by her high-pitched sobs and the shuddering spasms of her body which were quickly quashed when Alyson went for the pin.
Hooking the far leg, Alyson nodded in time with the zebra as he counted off, 'ONE... TWO...' Katie forced a shoulder up, breaking the count.
Alyson snarled but that expression was soon swallowed up by an incredibly sadistic smile. Shaking her head apologetically, she muttered, "How silly of me! I almost forgot that you haven't given our old friend Mr. Barbed Wire a hug today. Let's go do that right now, OK?" Assuming control over Katie's wrists, the redhead pulled Katie to her feet and led her towards the nearest edge of the ring. Turning Katie around so her back was to the wire, Alyson looked out at the crowd and told them, "I don't care if you like me or not, you WILL be chanting HOLY SHIT in just a second."
Attempting to fulfill her prophecy, Alyson reached up with her left hand and placed it palm-down across Katie's head in a temple-crushing Face Claw. Katie tried to break Alyson's grip but her foe wasn't looking for a submission, simple concession would have been far more merciful than what she had in mind. While Katie was preoccupied with trying to wrench Alyson's hand off her face, Alyson stepped beside her squirming rival and put one long leather-sheathed leg behind Katie's planted feet. Balancing all her weight on the other leg, Alyson kicked the leg behind Katie back as hard as she could, while simultaneously pushing forward on the Claw. The combination of Iron Claw and STO was bad enough when the victim had to land on unyielding canvas but it was downright vile when the recipient was hurled into a morass of glittering steel points.
Katie's scream overpowered the audience's moan of discomfort, but not by much. The lissome brunette had been forced deep into the coils of wire and everyone present knew that she was going to open up several more cuts on herself if she wanted to be free anytime soon. Dusting off her hands, Alyson smirked into Katie's crimped face and taunted, "I call this 'Acupuncture for the pathetic'. I hope to make a whole series."
"Yours is good, but mine is better..." a ragged voice from behind her growled. Alyson whirled around; claws at the ready only to get stopped in her tracks with a wicked open-palmed thrust to the throat. Gagging, the redhead started to sink to her knees but Rachel didn't let her get that far. Wrapping her fingers around Alyson's throat, Rachel jerked her foe to her feet and maneuvered her into the center of the ring. Using the horrid stinging in her back as motivation, Rachel looped one arm across Alyson's chest and over her shoulder while the other arm went under the brunette's arm to cinch the sturdy vixen in an inescapable loop.
An arctic storm brewing in her eyes, Rachel whispered, "You know what the real irony of this situation is Aly? I'm going to beat you and Katie to a pulp and when I do Richard Pickman will come to realize he should have asked me to be the Hood and you could fill the role as pathetic red herring."
Falling silent, she placed her leg behind the other redhead's and shoved forward. Alyson was taken off her feet and she was slammed back-first into the mat by Rachel's own variant on the STO. Quickly rolling onto her knees, Rachel climbed back to her feet and hauled Alyson to her knees. Stepping forward, she trapped Alyson's head between her thighs in a tight Standing Headscissors. Wrapping her arms around her prey's waist, Rachel hoisted Alyson up into the Piledriver position and held her there just long enough to get Katie's attention.
When she thought the trapped brunette could understand, Rachel cooed, "You're next bitch."
She sat out and spiked the pale grappler's skull into the canvas with an ungodly THUD! Shoving Alyson away from her, Rachel took several deep breaths before getting back to her feet. Dividing her attention between the moaning redhead and the wriggling brunette, the Auburn Avenger decided it was time to hurt both rivals in one single move. Stalking over to Alyson's head, Rachel peeled her captive off the mat only to quickly seize hold of her right wrist in both hands. Lining up so that her back was to Katie, Rachel trudged forward until she and Alyson were almost on the opposite side of the ring. Setting her mind to the task at hand, Rachel couldn't resist leaning in to whisper, "It's time you two idiots kissed and made up."
Exhaling wetly into Alyson's ear, the domineering redhead stepped back and whipped Alyson into a collision course with Katie. Unfortunately for Rachel, Alyson had different ideas and before she could relinquish her grip on the other redhead's wrist, Alyson planted her feet against the mat and reversed the momentum, sending a surprised and dismayed Rachel hurtling towards Katie. Keeping her wits about her, Rachel stayed the course, meaning to use Katie as a crash-pad/barricade against the wire.
It would have worked perfectly had Katie not chosen that very moment to rip free of the barbs and lunge forward. Before Rachel could even think about putting on the brakes, Katie had her arms wrapped around the redhead's hips and locked just under her butt. A heartbeat later she rose up on one foot, pivoted around 180-degrees and SLUNG Rachel into the labyrinth of barbed wire in what was quite possibly the vilest application of the Spinebuster in professional wrestling history.
Ignoring the applause from the crowd and the sobs from Rachel, Katie spun around on her heel just in time to see Alyson sprinting towards her. Acting before she could think, Katie sidestepped Alyson and the redhead breezed on by only to ram full-force into the torn, sobbing wreckage of the other redhead. Absolutely loving the hollow THONK their heads made when they came together, Katie let Alyson come staggering away from the wire before she lunged forward and CLOBBERED Alyson across the back of the neck with a Lariat. Aly went down in heap and was instantly forgotten by the brunette.
Turning an intense, fevered gaze to the girl strung up in the spikes, Katie thrust her hands forward and plunged them into Rachel's crimson locks. Pulling the wounded beauty free of the barrier with a heartless tug, Katie treated her to a knee to the groin that doubled her over instantly. Moving without making a sound, Katie cinched Rachel in a tight Front Facelock and held the position for a moment.
Ever so slowly, that cruel, beautiful smile broke out on her face and she whispered, "This is how it SHOULD have ended the first time."
Katie drove herself back and down with everything she had left, molding Rachel's skull to the canvas with her patented DDT. Rachel shuddered once and then lay still, making it easy for Katie to roll the insensate redhead onto her back and hook the far leg. Trussing Rachel up into a loose cradle, Katie placed her forearm across the woozy girl's face and pressed down hard as the official counted off "ONE... TWO... THREE!"
The Announcer made the brunette's first pin official and Katie tossed Rachel's leg down, but she wasn't through with the battered vixen just yet. She may have PINNED Rachel, but now she was going to FINISH her. Sinking her long, slender fingers into Rachel's sweaty mane, Katie scrambled to her feet and jerked Rachel to her knees.
Completely oblivious to everything else, Katie panted, "Gonna leave my mark on you now McAdams; both halves in fact."
Wedging Rachel's head between her thighs, the lithe grappler wrapped both arms around her foe's waist and lifted her into the air, rudely positioning the small of her back across Katie's right shoulder in preparation for the Holmes Wrecker. Blinking through the film of sweat running into her eyes, the brunette was just about to leave her feet and break Rachel's back when Alyson filled her field of vision. Before Holmes could even begin to react, Alyson darted her hand forward and poked Katie in the eyes, blinding her.
Suppressing a giggle as Katie let Rachel come tumbling off her shoulder, Alyson cooed, "You're done with her Katie, time to square off with the real villain of the piece."
When Katie growled and swung for her head, Alyson merely ducked and stepped forward, burying her shoulder in Katie' gut. As the air rushed out of Katie's lungs, Alyson muscled the larger girl onto her shoulders and held her in a Fireman's Carry for less than a second before dropping straight down to spatter Katie against the mat with a Samoan Drop. Still giggling softly as Katie moaned beneath her, Alyson rose to one knee and watched carefully as Rachel rolled onto her belly and started to push her way up. Arching an eyebrow, Alyson mused, "Maybe you aren't so useless after all. I mean, anyone who hates Katie Holmes can be a complete imbecile."
Getting to her feet, Alyson walked over to where Rachel was recovering and extended her hand. When the kneeling redhead sensed her presence, she craned her head up, sneered, and slapped Aly's hand aside. "Get away from me." she growled.
Speaking softly, Pickman's pupil replied, "Come on now Rachel, you don't mean that. We BOTH know we're more interested in hurting Katie than one another. I'd be willing to put aside our differences long enough to put that miserable bitch out of commission, and then you and I can settle up. Don't tell me the thought of bludgeoning her in cooperation with someone has never crossed your mind..."
Knowing full well that she was being played, Rachel couldn't deny that Alyson made an intriguing offer. Getting up under her one power, the Auburn Avenger went nose-to-nose with the other redhead and whispered, "I'm not even CLOSE to being through with you yet... but if you've got some ideas about what to do with her, I'd be interested in hearing them."
Smiling wickedly, Alyson answered, "You just put her in a Standing Headscissors and we'll go from there."
Suddenly moving as one, Alyson waited as Rachel pulled Katie to her knees and then applied the aforementioned Scissors. Pointing towards the ceiling, Alyson said "Lift her up." Trying to fight through the feeling that Alyson was setting her up for a fall, Rachel drew in a deep breath and then hoisted Katie up onto her shoulders, holding her in position for the Powerbomb. Standing on Rachel's right and slightly in front of her, Alyson sighed another two word command, "Drop her!"
Rachel did just that, driving the brunette towards the canvas to complete the Powerbomb. But before Katie could hit the mat, Alyson dropped to one knee and waited, letting the small of Katie's back bend wickedly over her knee, the Backbreaker ridiculously augmented by the force of the Powerbomb. Katie groaned once and flopped lifelessly to the mat, as Rachel and Alyson let her go.
Rubbing her knee where Katie's back had come crashing down, Alyson glanced over at Rachel and asked, "You still like the Camel Clutch?"
Rachel looked suspicious, but nodded her head. Alyson's smile grew wider. "Then cinch her up. And be a sweetie and make sure to fishhook her real good, no matter what happens between you and me, I want this bitch MANGLED by the time the bell rings."
Wiping a slow trickle of blood off her forehead, Rachel muttered, "You aren't the only one."
Turning the full force of her hatred on the moaning brunette, Rachel jerked Katie to her hands and knees, straddled her upper back and strung Katie's arms across her thighs. Almost done, the sturdy beauty made a show of reaching down and lacing her fingers under the former Darkness Leader's chin. Rachel leaned forward for just a moment before pulling back viciously, trapping Katie in the Camel Clutch. Remembering the agony she'd experienced when Katie had flung her into the coils of barbed wire, Rachel pulled out all the stops in trying to tear Katie's head from her shoulders. She even did as Alyson asked and slipped two fingers into either side of her captive's mouth and wrenched back, doing her damnedest to peel the skin off the brunette's face.
Over on the more vertical end of the spectrum, Alyson took a well deserved (at least in her mind) breather while Rachel tortured Katie. Wincing as she inspected several shallow cuts on her arms and sides, the calculating redhead glared at her hated adversary and snarled, "You think this HURTS Katie? This is just motivation bitch. For every drop of my blood spilled, I'll take a gallon of yours. And I'm going to start right now."
Shifting her attention from tormented to tormentor, Alyson called, "LET GO OF HER HEAD RACHEL."
Looking more than a little dubious, Rachel removed her fingers from the brunette's sobbing mouth, but she couldn't resist the urge to settle both hands in Katie's hair and hold her head up just enough so she could see Aly coming. Backing up to the edge of the barbed wire, Alyson lined up her shot and sprinted forward. When the distance between her and the other two combatants had dwindled to nothing, Alyson executed a low hop and pistoned both feet forward, directly into Katie's face with a Low Dropkick. There was a loud THWAP followed by a low groan from Katie, but that wasn't nearly enough punishment for the two vengeful redheads.
Rolling to her knees, Alyson glared at Rachel and said, "Hold her steady; one more ought to do it!"
She got to her feet and stalked back to her original take off point. When Katie's bleeding face was lifted into position again, Alyson took off and left her feet for the second time in as many minutes. Only difference was, she went a little higher on this trip and it was Rachel who tasted the grime on the soles of Alyson's boots. Laughing aloud at the duplicitous ease of her betrayal, Alyson got to her feet and swaggered over to where Rachel was writhing and protecting her face in her hands.
Dropping to one knee, the ex-Hood grabbed Rachel by the scruff of her neck and purred, "Alliance is over douche bag. I've only needed one partner before tonight and it sure is hell isn't you." Yanking Rachel to her feet, Aly quickly transitioned to a two-handed grip on Rachel right wrist. Stepping away so she could better extend the captured limb, Alyson offered, "Normally I'd whip you into the ropes to set this up, but seeing as how the ropes have a certain serrated quality this evening, I'll have to make due with another version.”
Alyson bent her knees and whipped the other redhead away from her before planting her feet and reeling her back in. As Rachel stumbled towards her Alyson lunged forward and met her with a swift Knee Lift to the belly. As Rachel doubled over in agony, Alyson reached around Rachel’s torso and locked her hands. In the same motion she hauled Rachel off her feet and spun her around nearly 270-degrees right before she dropped to one knee and slammed Rachel down stomach first across the posted joint, neatly impaling the Canadian beauty with a Tilt-a-Whirl Gutbuster.
Enjoying feeling Rachel's tortured belly against her knee, Alyson patted her quivering rump and said, "Well this has been fun Rachel, but it's time for me to be getting back to the bitch that really matters, so if you don't mind, this is where you and I part ways for the moment."
Getting nothing in the way of a real answer, Alyson grabbed Rachel by the hair and got to her feet. Holding the gutshot beauty with both arms, Alyson quickly scooped Rachel up onto her shoulder and carried her towards the nearest corner of the ring. Grinning from ear-to-ear as her shadow fell over the nasty tangle of tines, Alyson mused, "Never has the name been more deserved." Silencing herself, Alyson continued her forward progress until she felt the wiry points prick and scratch at her arms. Content that Rachel was going to be preoccupied for the next several minutes, Alyson thrust her victim forward, tying her victim to a Tree of Woe that had been tightly bound in barbed wire. Ignoring the inverted redhead's pained shrieks; Alyson laughed and suggested, "Why don't you just hang out here for a little while? I'll be back for you later."
Leaving Rachel trapped in the jaws of the demonic barrier; Alyson whirled around on her heel and strutted over to where a bleeding, sweating Katie Holmes was just starting to get to her hands and knees. Keeping her approach quiet Alyson got to within two feet of the penitent brunette before she snarled, "I didn't say you could get up bitch!"
Katie looked over her shoulder just in time to see Alyson blast her foot up in a vicious punt that caught her dead in the crotch. Katie howled in protest and collapsed onto the mat, cradling her injured center. Not bothering to hide the smirk on her face, Alyson sauntered over to Katie's head and dropped to both knees. Sending a cruel smile in Pickman's direction, the domineering redhead pulled Katie to her feet and gripped her head in both hands.
Absolutely beaming into Katie's pain-drenched face, Alyson said, "I know this is pure old school cliché, but I can't help myself, it's just so fucking COOL!"
Not caring if Katie responded (which was good because she didn't) Alyson pulled her head back. Face contorting briefly, it looked like she was simply going to spit in her rival's face, but as was often the case with Alyson, things weren't always what they seemed. True, the redhead did spit in Katie's face, but this wasn't anything so mundane as a faceful of phlegm and saliva oh no. Instead a vile black mist, the color of fine ink sprayed out of her mouth and instantly coated the brunette's features. Looking quite frightening with the remnants of that mysterious gunk running down her chin Alyson growled, "Now the fun REALLY begins."
Snickering quietly, Alyson curled her right hand into a talon and jammed her middle and ring fingers into the brunette's mouth, slipping them under Katie's tongue and pressing down viciously to lock in the Mandible Claw. Katie gagged and tried to pull away but Alyson used her free hand to grab Katie' shoulder and keep her standing. Wanting nothing more than to finish Katie in the most vicious way possible, Alyson pressed down hard on the Mandible Claw and started to force the brunette into a drunken backpedal that put her on a collision course with the ropes.
Katie was in so much pain that she didn't know where she was until Alyson gave her a final shove that sent the brunette stumbling into the forest of spines. Dark eyes blazing with a hellish fire, Alyson clamped down on the crippling hold and pressed forward as hard as she could, intent on shredding the girl she hated more than any other. Her breath coming in great gasping blasts, Alyson shook Katie's head from side to side, watching with cruel avidity as the wire traced nonsense patterns on the brunette's cheeks. Leaning in as close as she dared, Alyson locked eyes with the semi-coherent brunette and roared, "SUBMIT!"
From somewhere deep within her stupor, Katie twitched her left hand towards Aly and flipped her the bird. Roaring in frustration Alyson bore down on the Mandible Claw and TORE Katie out of the wire. Leading the bleeding brunette back to the center of the ring, Alyson bent her rival over and turned around, so that the small of her back was resting against the top of Katie's head. In the same motion, she reached back with one arm and then the other, hooking both of her arms behind the brunette's elbows. Making sure her grip was secure, Allison took a breath and then ducked down, turning in a half circle so that she was now facing the other direction; the top of her head almost level with Katie's butt.
Almost done, Alyson forced her head between the brunette's thighs and stood up straight, lifting Katie off the mat so that her head was pointing down at the canvas, her legs were dangling uselessly overhead, and her butt resting easily against the back. Still holding the brunette up by the elbows, Alyson rose up on her toes and sat out, driving the top of the brunette's skull into the mat with 'The Freefall in Crimson.'
Shoving Katie over onto her back, Alyson hooked both legs and rolled the crippled girl up. Nodding savagely, Alyson hissed, "YEEEEES!" as the referee counted, "ONE... TWO... THREE!"
Cackling in triumph, Alyson tossed Katie's legs aside and got to her feet. Raising both hands high overhead, the redhead exclaimed, "DON'T YOU IDIOTS GET IT? SHE CAN'T BEAT..."
WHHUUUMP! Rachel nearly cut the preening redhead in half with a Spear from deep out of left field. Shuddering in a bizarre combination of rage, pain and exhaustion, Rachel flipped the hair out of her eyes and sneered down into the other redhead's face. Chuckling under her breath, Rachel whispered, "She might not be able to beat you Aly, but I sure as hell can."
Intent on proving the truth of her claim, Rachel hauled Alyson to her feet and proceeded to gut her with a Knee Lift to the abdomen. With her victim doubled over, Rachel trapped Alyson in a Front Face Lock, slinging the pale skinned vixen's near arm over her shoulders while reaching down to hook Alyson's left leg with her right arm. Pausing for just a second to catch her breath, Rachel pulled Alyson up and off her feet, bringing Alyson crashing down hard with a Fisherman's Suplex.
Releasing the bridge on contact, Rachel rolled to one knee and popped to her feet. Still seething over the Alyson's betrayal, Rachel jabbed her hands into Alyson's hair and ripped the other redhead off the canvas. Their faces mere inches apart, Rachel growled, "I don't care if I have to break every bone in your body, by the time this match is over I will make sure you understand that you DO NOT TURN YOUR BACK ON ME!" The Auburn Avenger was screaming into Alyson's face now and instead of calming her down, the roar seemed to infuriate her further. Moving faster than she had any right to, Rachel scooped Alyson onto her shoulder and limped across the ring to the same corner Aly had left her string up.
Not hesitating for a second, Rachel tied her victim to the Tree of Woe, a development that brought fresh cries of pain from the inverted beauty. Patting Alyson on the knee, Rachel muttered, "Don't go anywhere now. I'll be right back..." and then stalked back to the center of the ring. Looking for a little audience participation, Rachel turned her attention to the front row and shouted, "I NEED SOMEBODY WITH A GOOD ARM TO SLING ME A CHAIR!"
There was an appreciative roar from the fans and seconds later, some good-natured individual gave up their seat to fling it over the wire and into the ring where Rachel caught it with ease. Nodding her thanks to the generous fan, Rachel sprinted toward the corner with chair still in hand. When she was about five feet away from the trapped redhead, Rachel executed a high, floaty hop and tucked her knees up right against her chest. In the same motion, she positioned the chair under her feet and held it in place. As she started to descend, Rachel released her hold on the chair and pistoned her feet forward, driving both boots and the steel chair directly into Alyson's face with a sadistically augmented Dropkick. THWAM! Alyson's whole body shivered hard enough for the redhead to tear free of the Tree of Woe but all that allowed her to do was flop onto the mat and bleed from a more horizontally favored position.
Tossing the chair aside, Rachel looked around and saw Katie still trying to recover on the far side of the ring. Deciding to continue heaping punishment on the duplicitous redhead, Rachel bent down, grabbed Alyson by the wrists and dragged her into the center of the ring. Wanting nothing more than to hear Alyson begging for mercy, Rachel flipped the battered girl onto her belly and stepped around so that she was standing by Alyson's feet.
Going to work, Rachel stood on Alyson's thighs, just above the knee. Then she bent down, pulled her captive's lower legs up and locked them inside her calves. The first half of her hold complete; she bent further and grabbed hold of Alyson's wrists, one in each hand. Holding her adversary in a death-grip, Rachel pulled back and fell until she was on her back on the canvas with Alyson suspended in the air above her. With the Mexican Surfboard locked on in the middle of the ring, Rachel knew that Alyson would be hers in moments. It didn't matter that the concession wouldn't win her the match; she just wanted to hear this lying bitch SOB.
Jiggling her holds on Aly's wrists and ankles, Rachel sneered, "Not so hard to dismiss me now is it Alyson?"
Refusing to acknowledge the pain she was feeling, Alyson suppressed a scream and fired back, "What's your name agaiNNNNGGGH!"
Katie sprinted in from the right and slashed her left foot up, catching Alyson directly in the temple. The captured redhead jerked once and then went limp, forcing Rachel to release the Surfboard. Kicking Alyson away from her, Rachel struggled to her feet, not letting her eyes leave Katie once. The brunette met Rachel's gaze without flinching, in fact, she smiled at Rachel. Extending both arms out at chest level, Katie beckoned her rival in with a wave of her fingers and another infuriating taunt. "Come and get me third wheel. You and I aren't through yet."
Shrieking in abject rage, Rachel flung herself at Katie only to have the tall warrior meet her with a hard boot to the gut. As she heard the air WHOOSH out of Rachel’s lungs, Katie grabbed the redhead's right arm, took two steps back and then drove forward. Extending her left arm, she smashed Rachel across the mouth with an explosive Short-Arm Clothesline that took her off her feet and dropped her flat on her back in a moaning heap.
Looking to take Rachel out of the equation before she settled up with Alyson, the brunette clamped down tighter on Rachel's wrist, keeping the two grapplers linked by Katie's right arm. Ignoring the numbing pain that was seeping into her back, Katie glared down at Rachel for a moment and then pulled her back to a standing position. Taking a few steps back, Katie steadied her aim for a moment before pulling Rachel towards her and lunging forward all in the same fluid motion. Katie' second Short Arm Clothesline was even stiffer than the first and because Katie was thoughtful enough to release Rachel's wrist as it connected, the blow nearly turned Rachel inside out, leaving her splayed out and face down on the canvas.
Refusing to give Rachel anything like a reprieve after the bitch had helped double-team her; Katie bent down, grabbed a handful of Rachel’s bloody, shredded shirt and scraped her off the mat. Holding Rachel against her so the other girl wouldn't fall over; Katie put her lips to her foe's ear and whispered, "I should just lift you up and toss you out of this fucking ring, but that would be letting you off easy. So you don't leave this ring until the ambulance has arrived to cart your pathetic, meddling ass away."
When nothing amusing came from the redhead, Katie gripped her by the throat and belly and proceeded to muscle Rachel up over her head and into a wobbly but effective Military Press. Smiling savagely as the crowd egged her on, Katie held Rachel up for as long as she could before her arms gave out and she had to toss her nemesis down onto the mat directly in front of her. Not satisfied with the commonly accepted version of the move, Katie added a personal touch; as Rachel was plummeting past her, Katie took a half step forward and dropped to one knee, letting Rachel fall stomach first across the posted joint in Gutbuster delivered from several feet higher than usual. Rachel gagged violently and immediately rolled off Katie's knee and into a ball at her feet.
Resting on one knee, Katie was going to say something clever only to be cut off by a pair of talons reaching across her face and raking as hard as the could. Laughing evilly as Katie cursed and stumbled away; Alyson booted the brunette to her hands and knees and then turned her attention to Rachel. Knowing that a win over Rachel would seal her victory, the opportunistic redhead pounced on her downed opposition and hooked both legs. As the ref dropped in to count, Alyson purred, "It may not be a pretty win, but then, what do you expect when I'm in the ring with two freaks like you?"
Ignoring Alyson's murmured threat, the official slapped the mat, 'ONE... TWO... THR...NO!"
Rachel shot her right arm off the canvas, breaking the count with less than a second to spare. Hissing in frustration, Alyson got to her feet and watched carefully as Rachel rolled in Katie's general direction. Seeing an opportunity for a beautiful visual (even if these plebeians didn't appreciate it, she knew Pickman would LOVE it!) Alyson stalked her prey and waited for just the right moment to strike which came a heartbeat later when Katie noticed Rachel and bent over to drag her to her feet. With Katie's attention diverted, it was child's play for the redhead to sneak up behind her foes and whisper, "Losers mumble what?"
When Katie turned around, Aly stabbed her left hand out and jammed her middle and ring fingers in Katie's mouth, applying the Mandible Claw once more. Only halfway there, Alyson readied her other hand and when Rachel glanced her way, Alyson rammed her fingers into the redhead's gullet, giving her a taste of the vicious Claw Hold as well.
Grinning maniacally as her two greatest enemies choked and writhed before her, Alyson howled, "GIVE IT UP YOU MISERABLE WHORES! GIVE IT UP RIGHT NOW!"
Suffering through the jaw-ripping anguish of the Mandible Claw, Katie tried to prize Alyson's fingers from her mouth but couldn't muster the energy. Not even wanting to comprehend the thought of being choked out by Alyson for a second time, Katie looked in Rachel's direction and managed to catch the redhead's eye. Unable to form words, Katie mumbled something that might have been 'help?' and Rachel said something equally incomprehensible in reply. Hoping and praying they were on the same page, Katie turned her attention to Alyson and wrapped both hands around her tormentor's intruding wrist.
Screaming around the digits in her mouth, Katie powered to her feet just as Rachel did the same. Before Alyson could clamp down again, redhead and brunette shot out right and left arms respectively, catching Alyson around the throat. Gurgling a laugh as Alyson's eyes went wide, Rachel and Katie lifted their foe off the mat and drove her right back down, starfishing her against the canvas with a Double Choke Slam that shook the ring.
Falling to her knees in exhaustion, Katie wasn't so out of it that she forgot she still needed to pin Aly to win this thing. Digging even deeper into her reserves, the brunette threw herself across Alyson's chest and hooked a leg. Almost instantly, the ref was in place and counting off, 'ONE... TWO... THR-NO!' Rachel kicked Katie in the ribs, breaking the count.
Wincing, Katie got to her feet just as Rachel was getting to hers. Wiping blood, sweat and hair off her forehead, Katie trained her eyes on Rachel and said, "Alright, enough bullshit. You and I are going to settle this right now."
Sucking wind in large, greedy gulps, Rachel rubbed her bloodied, tape-wrapped hands across the thighs of her jeans and replied, "I couldn't agree more."
There were no more words as the two hated enemies waded into each other with fists flying; neither willing to stop swinging until the other lay unconscious at her feet. While Rachel and Katie were busy hammering away at each other, Alyson was gathering her strength and making a plan. Fully aware the two idiots were preoccupied with destroying one another, the former Hood slinked to an empty corner where she picked up the chair Rachel had used against her earlier. Savoring the weight and heft of the makeshift weapon, Alyson glared towards the warring pair and hissed, "Enemies or allies, it all means nothing in the end. This is my masterpiece and your parts in it are coming to an end."
Standing up, she brought the chair up level with her shoulder and started to sprint towards Rachel and Katie. Several feet away Katie, totally oblivious, blocked a Haymaker by Rachel and countered with an Uppercut that rocked the redhead up on her toes. As Rachel staggered back, Katie glanced at Pickman just as the artist looked up from his sketch pad. What happened next, she never told anyone - mainly because she could never make sense of it. Silent amid the cacophony and chaos of the arena, Richard Upton Pickman smiled and mouthed a single word, 'Duck.'
Instinctively, Katie did as she was told and not a moment too soon. A second later Alyson's chair sliced through the air where her head had just been and the shot meant for her, BWANG, smashed Rachel's face instead. Ignoring Alyson's screamed curse and the sound of Rachel crumpling to the mat, Katie whirled around on her heel just as Alyson was coming around for a second pass. Knowing Alyson wouldn’t be satisfied with a swing and a miss, Katie dropped back onto her heel for a split second then exploded forward, meeting Alyson's second attempt with a big right boot that smashed the chair back into the incoming redhead's face. That callously nasty BWONG echoed through the arena again, but this time it was Alyson that ended up flat on the mat after it had died away.
Standing tall amid the wreckage of her two rivals, Katie glared out at the crowd and screamed, "THIS ENDS NOW!"
Feeding on the frenzied roar of mob, Katie limped over to Rachel's head and pulled her to her knees. Forcing Rachel’s head between her thighs, Katie locked her arms around the young woman's limp waist and lifted her onto the point of her shoulder as though she was going to administer the Holmes Wrecker. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, she shifted her grip from the redhead's waist to under her armpits. With a grunt of effort, Katie lifted Rachel up a little higher, holding Rachel into a ‘T’.
Limping to the edge of the ring, Katie stopped at the barbed wire. Setting her sights on the Commentators table, the brunette whispered, "Don't ever fuck with me again Rachel!"
Then took three giant steps and HEAVED Rachel clear over the barbed wire to let gravity bring her down in the center of the table with an ear-splitting CRASH! Silence reigned for one more second and then the whole crowd exploded in the most heartfelt 'HOLY SHIT!' chants ever to be heard in a Fannin produced show. Waiting just long enough to confirm that the medics were coming to check on Rachel, Katie turned her back on the carnage she'd created in the hopes that she could create a little more. Noting with no small amount of pleasure that Alyson was still flat on her back, Katie trudged over to the corner of the ring where she'd hung her jacket at the very beginning of the fight. Keeping her gaze locked on the flattened redhead, Katie reached into the right pocket and found what she was looking for.
Her face twisting into a cold, unpleasant smile, Katie pulled out a pair of wire cutters and said, "You've had your fun Aly. Now it's my turn." Tuning out the indignant squawk of the official, Katie plunged the clippers into an especially thick tangle of wire and snipped away. Within seconds she had a basketball sized bundle that she carried over to the discarded chair. Dropping the spiked monstrosity on the dented chair, Katie wasted no time in pulling Alyson to her feet and trapping her in a Front Facelock. Basking in the horrified but somehow expectant buzz that was rushing through the audience, Katie positioned Alyson's head over the pile of steel and whispered, "This, this right here? This is art."
As that disturbing statement was leaving her lips, Katie drove herself back and down with everything she had left, pinning Alyson's forehead to the barbed wire with a heinous DDT. Wanting nothing more than for this to be over, Katie shoved Alyson over onto her back and went for the cover, making sure she placed her forearm directly across Alyson's lacerated forehead.
Barely able to stomach all he'd seen in the last few minutes, the ref dropped down and counted off, 'ONE... TWO... THRE...NO!'
Alyson rolled her left shoulder off the mat and no one, Pickman included, could believe it. Fighting down the black swirls and loops that were invading her vision, Katie grabbed the bloodied tangle of wire and got to her feet. Working quickly, the brunette untangled the wire into a crooked line almost eight feet long. Dropping to her knees beside Alyson's legs, Katie spoke to her semiconscious adversary in a halting, choked voice. "You've got a lot of heart Alyson; I guess that's why he chose you. But it's not going to save you, not tonight anyway."
Speaking no more, Katie started to wrap the barbed wire around the redhead's torso in a loose, crisscrossing coil. When the brunette ran out of material, she buried her bloody claws in Alyson's mane and pulled her to her feet. Not really caring if Fannin fired her for what she was about to do, Katie slipped around beside Alyson and looped one hand between Alyson's legs while the other snaked its way around her victim's chin. Gritting her teeth against the pain that was coming, Katie lifted Alyson off the mat, draping the hapless redhead across her shoulders, trapped in a Torture Rack made a thousand times worse by the barbed wire!! Wrenching the hold with all her considerable strength, Katie used the pain in her shoulders and back as motivation as she stayed rooted in the center of the ring with Alyson writhing on her shoulders and sobbing pitifully into the lights.
Bouncing the hold up and down, Katie found her voice and screamed, "YOU'RE TRAPPED ALYSON! GIVE IT UP!" Unable to hold back tears, Alyson shook her head frantically 'no' and tried to locate Pickman. She knew that if she could just see him for a second the answer would come, but try as she might, the redhead couldn't find him. And this was probably just as well because at that very moment Richard Pickman was working on a sketch showing his current protégé being snapped in two by his former protégé. Disgusted with Alyson's lack of surrender, Katie began to rock in earnest. Screaming at the top of her lungs, Katie shrieked, "SUBMIT!"
Hating herself for the words that came out of her mouth, Alyson whimpered, "I give."
Hearing the redhead's concession, the ref immediately called for the bell. As the Announcer declared her the winner, Katie dumped the beaten girl off her shoulders and dropped to her knees. Hugging her ribs, Katie sank forward, resting her forehead on the blood-stained canvas for close to fifteen seconds before she straightened up. Staggering to her feet, the brunette extended her arms out at her sides and just stood there, letting the crowd take in her victory.
Waiting patiently as a horde of officials and medics cut a hole in the wire, Katie looked over in Pickman's direction, but the artist was gone. Somewhere in all the madness the young man had slipped away and left nothing but an empty easel as proof of his existence. When the help had created a suitable egress, Katie stumbled to the edge of the ring and hopped down onto the floor. Falling into the grip of the medics, the brunette allowed them to carry her up the ramp, but when they reached the curtain, Katie shrugged them off and turned to face the audience.
Rewarding the faithful with a final flash of her sign, Katie said, "Whadda ya know? Sometimes the good girls do win."
Those last two sentences finally used up the last of the brunette's energy and she sagged into the arms of the hovering medics. With Katie propped between them, Fannin's staff hauled the victorious warrior through the curtain, and thus one masterpiece was finished, but it surely wouldn't be long before another began.
An hour after the show, Fannin was waiting anxiously outside the door to the small infirmary the promotion had set up in the back of the R'lyeh Club. Doing his best not to pace, the promoter settled for cracking his knuckles one by one. Just as he finished, the door opened up and Dr. Straker and Archer stepped out into the hall. Unable to take the suspense any longer, Fannin asked, "How are they Doc?"
The fight doctor stuck his hands in the pockets of his jacket and said rather cheerily, "Bruised, abraded and generally scraped, but aside from a few deeper cuts that needed stitching, they're fine."
Fannin was relieved, but not entirely convinced. "Even Rachel? I figured she'd be in the Emergency Room after taking that dive through the table."
This time it was Archer who answered. Flipping his notepad shut, the archivist said, "She's sore for sure; but she's more upset that the highlight of the match will be her crashing and burning."
Taking this into consideration, the promoter nodded and muttered, "Ah she'll be fine. Every wrestler needs their Mick Foley moment. Oh and what about Alyson? She was looking pretty gruesome after that DDT connected."
Straker and Arch exchanged worried looks and this instantly spread to Rich, but before he could posit a follow-up query, the doctor answered, "Well... the wound required several stitches and I dealt with that just fine, but... um..."
More confused than ever Fannin prodded, "What? Does she need to go to the hospital?"
Archer shook his head 'no.' "I don't think so Rich. She's gone."
He thought they were joking at first but the mystified expressions stayed in place so he was forced to ask, "How the hell did that happen?"
Straker shrugged. "We have no idea. After we'd cleaned their wounds and gotten through the first round of stitches, we took a break to go get some coffee and when we came back, she was gone."
Rubbing his temples, Fannin groaned, "This is not good."
Holding up a thin sheaf of papers in one hand, Archer said, "I don't think we have to worry about her wandering into traffic Rich. Alyson may be gone, but these were left on her pillow."
He handed them over to the promoter and Rich opened them up. The first page was a handwritten note. It wasn't very long, but it seemed to explain a lot.
Unable to stop himself from speaking the communiqué aloud, Fannin read...
I have taken my former protégé to a private facility just north of Innsmouth where she will receive the greatest of care. You should be able to confirm her whereabouts no later than eight o'clock tomorrow morning when the esteemed Dr. Straker will receive a call from my friend Henry Armitage, the head of the Smith's Grove facility. Rest assured that no harm has befallen Ms. Hannigan and as soon as she is well, she will return to your employ, though I believe you will find her greatly changed in some respects. I cannot thank you all enough for your hospitality these last several months; please accept these sketches as a token of my appreciation. Until next we meet, I remain,
Richard Upton Pickman III
PS. Please tell Katie she'll be in my thoughts.
Having finished the note, Rich looked up and let out a deep breath. "That's... a little disconcerting."
Nodding his agreement, Straker asked, "What do you want to do?"
Letting loose with another sigh, Fannin replied, "As odd as Pickman was, he never struck me as the kidnapping type..."
Archer scribbled something on his notepad and mused, "You think she went voluntarily?"
"I do. But I'd wager good money that she didn't read this note. She wouldn't have liked the sound of the word 'former.' So for now, we take him at his word. Doc, I need you to be by the phone tomorrow morn... I mean, this morning to make sure you get the call from whoever's looking out for Alyson now."
"Sure. As soon as I talk to him I'll do a follow-up search just to make sure the place is legit."
Fannin nodded again and the doctor took the opportunity to make his exit. It had been a phenomenally hectic evening for him as well. As Straker's footsteps started to recede, Archer riffed through the stack of drawings and asked, "What do you want to do with these?"
Fannin wasn't sure. He sure as shit didn't want them. Too many odd memories associated with their creator. "Hell if I know. Why don't ya have them framed and then put on the website for auction. I'm sure someone will want them."
The archivist made a final pass through the sketches before replying, "Can do..." he paused and glanced at the promoter with questioning eyes. "Do you think this thing is finally over?"
Rich honestly wasn't sure and he told him as much. "I'm not perceptive enough to say so one way or another Arch. I sure as hell hope so, that's for sure."
Flipping the pad shut for the last time that evening, Archer grinned and said, "Me too. All right, I'm gonna go put these in my office and then head back to the hotel. What about you?"
Fannin stifled a yawn, thought about it for a second, then replied, "I'm gonna go back to my room, find the schlockiest, cheesiest, rubber suit wearingest monster movie I can find and then doze off with the TV on. I've had enough fine art to last me a lifetime."